November 18, 2019

Weekly Column: Focus On Return Of Missing Servicemembers

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

I honor America’s prisoners of war (POWs) and missing in action (MIA) and call attention to National POW/MIA Recognition Day through Senate statements each year to try to help keep national focus on the return of American servicemembers.  Additionally, to assist with this effort, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) recently joined me in introducing the bipartisan S. 2794, the Bring Our Heroes Home Act, to provide for an expedited and consolidated process for declassifying and collecting records of POW and MIA personnel.

I highlighted in the Congressional Record that “a special tribute must be paid to the families and friends of missing servicemembers.  Too often, their quiet, ceaseless and enormous service to our nation is overlooked.  Many have carried on through years, and even decades, of sorrow and uncertainty.  Their questions must be replaced with answers.  Their loss must be softened, if possible, by resolution.”  I also thanked the members of the POW*MIA Awareness Rally Corp. of Pocatello, Idaho, and other groups that hold rallies and other events to keep a spotlight on the immense service of our nation’s veterans and the need for an ongoing focus on bringing them all home. 

Those working hard through challenging conditions to get needed answers and bring all American servicemembers home also deserve appreciation and steady encouragement.  Piecing together the circumstances, whereabouts and lives of those lost cannot be easy, but bringing them home is critical to honoring their service. 

The bipartisan Bring Our Heroes Home Act would provide for the consolidation of all records related to missing personnel within a newly instituted Missing Armed Forces Personnel Records Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and require all government agencies to transmit any missing servicemember records to NARA.  The legislation would also establish an independent government office, the Missing Armed Forces Personnel Records Review Board, to identify missing personnel records, facilitate the transmission and disclosure of these records, and review any decisions by federal agencies to postpone declassification.  Bill text, a section-by-section summary and one-page explanation about the bill can be found on my website, www.crapo.senate.gov

I co-sponsored similar legislation in the 115th Congress and have long supported various efforts to identify and recover all missing and unaccounted for American military personnel. 

Bringing all missing American servicemembers home will certainly not fill the losses felt in far too many American families.  But, those who have served our nation deserve no less than to rest at home, and we cannot rest until they do.  The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which coordinates and conducts research and recovery efforts to account for missing personnel, reports that 359 Idahoans are listed as missing during their service in the United States Armed Forces.  I look forward to enactment of this legislation that will prioritize and facilitate the declassification of records related to missing servicemembers that will aid in ensuring families of America’s servicemembers will have the resolution they so deeply deserve. 

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